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dsc_3502All aboard the eccentric carriage of culinary and cocktail curiosities making its way across the UK courtesy of Hendrick’s. Its bonkers bar-cum-dining room rolled into Edinburgh today until Sunday; Manchester, 30 July–2 August; London, 1–4 October. No, we haven’t been drinking – not today at any rate…

Ever imagined munching aphrodisiac lavender marshmallows? Or rose bush and candied rose petals followed by quails’ eggs and legs dusted with chili and gold? That’s just a taste of the shenanigans we enjoyed when it briefly paused off Brick Lane last month – Juliet and I all the while sipping Hendrick’s gin cocktails, chatting to frock-coated butlers and chaps called Carruthers resplendent in goggles, cravats and motorcycle britches… (See Juliet’s snapshot, below.)

inside the carriageQuite a mouthful all that. Well, you try summing up the Hendrick’s Horseless Carriage of Curiosities in one gasp. Impossible.

Join the magical gin-infused culinary mystery tour simply by sourcing something ‘curiouser and curiouser’ – to quote that mastermind of madcap tea parties Lewis Carroll. And then get yourself to the right rendezvous: Bristo Square in Edinburgh, the Great Northern in Manchester, and Manchester Square Gardens in London.

You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see dapper young men wielding cucumbers or a young woman in a floral frock and a wind-defying fascinator playing music hall melodies on an ancient piano.

Folk posing for photos under parasols and against empty antique picture frames, perched atop bird cages and trunks should seal the deal. Behind them, sitting in a – you’ve guessed it – curious way, is the horseless carriage itself.

Hendricks Carriage of Curiosities, LondonPresent your donation to a begoggled fella with a red-ribboned cucumber and he’ll label your exhibit with a description, deposit it in the display cabinet, et voilà – hand you a  ticket to a Hendrick’s cocktail, a delightful muddle of gin, cucumber and rose water. If your donation is judged curious enough by the creative minds behind the extravaganza, you’ll win a place on one of the Horseless Carriage’s dinner parties. This will see you plied with gintastic tipples and treated to a crazy three-course meal courtesy of Bompas & Parr. Obsessed with aspic in all its myriad shapes, forms and flavours, Sam Bompas and Harry Parr are the brains behind these bonkers bites.

picture-11Having arrives homework-less, Juliet and I were forced to donate pitifully uninspiring oddities. A cupcake case, once the vestment of a cream-filled choux bun from Deal from J; blotting powder paper, imprinted with my ‘radiance’ from me. (Carruthers thankfully assured me ladies do not sweat, they glow).  If you want to experience this batty spectacle, we’d encourage you to dig deeper than the fluff-coated contents of your coat pocket. (Another pathetic offering.)

Hendrick's Carriage of Curiosity, LondonAn additional highlight of this oddball extravaganza? Flavour tripping, no less. This involved letting a pill containing miracle berry extract dissolve slowly on my tongue (don’t bite, chew or crunch, mind). For the next two hours, I was told I’d able to gorge unrestrainedly on lemons and vinegar while the miracle berry made sour things taste sweet and sweet things taste even sweeter. (All legal and above board, apparently – although the FSA ain’t too keen on the blighters. Spoilsports.) Pill or otherwise – those G&Ts tasted mighty fine.

So if you’re able to get to Hendrick’s Horseless Carriage of Curiosities, trust us, you won’t be disappointed. Move aside, Antiques Roadshow; Willy Wonka, eat your heart out. It’s even on Facebook. This spectacular spectacle will leave a much more curious taste in your mouth. And delicious it is too.

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